Sask. schools form coalition representing 60,000 post-secondary students

The first official student coalition was formed in Saskatchewan this week, with members from four post-secondary institutions.

'We are kind of at a tipping point now,' says coalition chair

The University of Saskatchewan has two unions in the coalition: the Students' Union and Graduate Students' Association. (Google Street View )

Students unions from four post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan have come together to create a coalition representing 60,000 students.

The coalition covers two student unions from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as the University of Regina, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies. The coalition hopes to bring in the First Nations University of Canada, too.

David D'Eon, chair of the Saskatchewan Students Coalition, said one of the main goals is to address provincial budget cuts to post-secondary institutions, which includes $25 million in funding reductions and the elimination of personal tax credits for tuition.

"We are faced with a situation this year where it's putting an incredible strain on our collective institutions to deal with this budget cut, and it's putting an unreasonable burden on students," said D'Eon.

"We are kind of at a tipping point now. We have to either find the best way we can to have our voice heard and to speak up, or else expect this to happen year over year."

Public conversation about post-secondary education 

The coalition also wants to bring the role of post-secondary education in Saskatchewan and student concerns into the public discourse, said D'Eon. 
David D'Eon is the chair of Saskatchewan Students Coalition and president of the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union. (Submitted by David D'Eon)

"We don't seem to understand, or we don't have a common consensus, about what the role of post-secondary education is, who should be able to access it, what programs should be available. There seems to be a disconnect there, particularly with the provincial government."

D'Eon emphasized that post-secondary education impacts everyone, not just students. 

"It really is a contributor to the health of the province," said D'Eon. "I would put forward the augment that we would not be as strong of a province if we didn't have the great institutions that we have."

In a written statement, the Ministry of Advanced Education outlined its contributions to post-secondary education over the past 10 years, including $8.3 billion in funding.

It also noted, "During that time, operating funds to our two universities have increased by 45 per cent, nearly twice the increase in the cost of living."